The Iraq Response: 10 minutes with Danish Refugee Council

As families start to return home, humanitarians are there to ensure all their basic needs are met
03 August 2018
Two men survey a Logistics Cluster mobile storage unit in Iraq

The Logistics Cluster has been active in Iraq since 2014 providing Information Management, coordination and facilitating access to common logistics services.

We spoke recently with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), one of our partners in Iraq, about overcoming logistical challenges, working together with the Logistics Cluster and what they’re focused on as Iraqis begin to make their return home.

What are the main logistical constraints that you are currently facing in Iraq?

Limitations regarding access to the program areas, including the timely movement of goods, humanitarian staff and the provision of services, continue to hinder humanitarian efforts.

Access at checkpoints can be delayed occasionally in areas such as Salah al-Din, but more significantly and recurrently in others, such as Anbar Insecurity may also delay movements for multiple days until relatively safe transit is restored. Other – sometimes multi-week - delays can also be expected around holidays that inhibit transportation through certain cities and/or checkpoints for vehicles.

There is low market availability for quality goods in many areas which necessitates procurement in more developed transportation and commercial hubs; however, fuel costs and time delays can escalate rapidly in cases where transportation of goods across longer distances is required.

How does the Logistics Cluster and the humanitarian community work together to overcome logistics constraints in the Iraq response?

Timely, two-way information sharing regarding all logistics matters remains constant between Logistics Cluster members. This ensures everything from market availability to road closures are effectively communicated and allow actors to adjust their planning and modalities accordingly.

The Logistics Cluster, acting on behalf of its members, also facilitates access at both national and local levels. The ability to respond collectively and in a coordinated manner to such matters adds significant degrees of resolve to challenging situations.

At a practical level, the cluster’s support in maintaining storage units in program areas allows for many of the aforementioned challenges to be mitigated by minimising movements and ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of goods, as well as supporting the safety of community members and humanitarian workers by reducing movement through insecure environments.

 

Supplies stored inside a Logistics Cluster mobile storage unit

Efforts are further supported in a coordinated manner by regular, face-to-face meetings between DRC and warehouse staff to find practical and preventative solutions to challenges, such as allowing a driver to temporarily and securely store kits at an agreed location for one night in order to depart promptly at 6:00 next morning.

How has the response changed over the past two years?

Despite some areas becoming more secure, access remains a constant challenge due to lingering insecurity as well as bureaucratic challenges. Due to access challenges DRC now utilises storage units loaned exclusively to DRC by the Logistics Cluster in two places. As the context within Iraq shifts to early recovery efforts, logistics coordination remains pivotal in ensuring recovery needs continue to be met while simultaneously maintaining capacity and resources to address any emerging issues.

As varying degrees of early recovery are underway, market availability has improved in some areas resulting in an increased ability to procure quality goods locally, and utilise cash programming, which can be a significantly more appropriate and effective response than the distribution of CRI/NFIs.

Families are beginning to return to their areas of origin, where infrastructure and road access has been critically impacted. What are the primary areas of focus for logisticians and responding organisations over the next six months?

For logistics, it is imperative that organisations coordinate to minimise the limiting factors, such as access, for more effective and efficient operations. This degree of coordination includes the organised use of storage facilities so that response times are optimised. Coordination also allows for proper feedback to be received on the performance of third-party service providers or suppliers. This degree of coordination is also essential in addressing other factors that need to be taken into consideration by logisticians, such as debris removal, particularly in areas in and around Baiji, as well as the rehabilitation of electrical grids. Lastly, ensuring communities receive the most critical forms of support is essential as the needs are vast and subjective to individual households. Ongoing multi-sector needs assessments are utilised to ensure that logisticians are readily able to address those needs in a coordinated manner.